So the hair stayed put through the hospital stay. While I remember (and have mentioned) that my head was sore by the end of the stay, a look back at my journal reveals that I didn’t even talk about the process of my hair falling out! It seems impossible, but one minute I’m writing about not wanting to get it cut. The next mention is months later with, “Hey, I’ve got hair growing back on my legs!”
So I guess I really was as calm about it as I remember. What I do remember is: it hurting for quite a while. I didn’t start to lose it until pretty near my 2nd drip. My chemo was 6 cycles of FEC (more common here in Europe), which are 3 weeks each. My release from the hospital was in the end of my 2rd week of cycle 1. I would go through drip #2, which is about the time it finally started happening. Not that I wanted it to come out, but after months and months of build-up, you’re kinda ready to just be done with it. Mostly, I was just ready for the sore scalp/headaches to go away! No one tells you how much it hurts for your hair to fall out!
And it took about 3 weeks to happen completely, though the first part was fast. I don’t know how to describe it any better than has been done by other BC bloggers. It just…starts coming out. In handfuls. And that part doesn’t hurt. My overriding memory? I was so amazed at the process than I couldn’t be bothered to be upset. It was cool, in a science-y kind of way.
Everywhere I went: hair, hair, hair, everywhere. In clumps, in drives, in handfuls. I had a habit of running my hand through my hair just to see how many strands would come off. I’d hold up my hand to see silky threads waving in the light. One end sticking to my skin, the other end floating up, dancing in the unseen movement of air.
Soemtimes I’d reach up and gently tug on a handful, awed that it would come out in my fingers without so much as a twinge of feeling. I loved to do this in front of (select) friends – you have to admit it’s a pretty impressive party trick! It’s as if it were never attached to begin with, but just waiting for me to brush it off.
It’s pretty common for most women shave it off, wear hair caps to sleep in and maybe hats during the day, all in order to stop the mess of hair everywhere. It’s like having a shedding dog. I couldn’t be bothered with that. Really, it was a once in a lifetime science experiment (knock on wood) and I was going to take advantage of my chance to observe it.
So I just let it fall out where it wanted and my dear boyfriend’s vacuuming took care of it. I vacuumed off my pillowcase everyday for a while, “ooohing” and “ahhing” each morning that there was enough hair to knit a sweater! It’s simply amazing how much hair we actually have on our head. Thousands and thousands and thousands of hairs a day, and still my hair was not noticeably thinner.
That first exodus went on for about 4-5 days. I finally noticed an obviously thinning spot on the right side of my head. It was covered by the longer hair above it at this point, but I was having none of it. Now it was time to embrace my baldness. So my dear friend Vanessa, visiting from Chicago, would do the honors of shaving my head for me, in the first of several touching contributions she would make to the whole chemo experience.
In what many of my friends would be considered “Sarah style”, we did it on the spur of the moment, with the wrong instruments, not bothered by the inevitably imperfect results. That is, finding my boyfriend’s electric razor (which was never used, crappy, and not intended for shaving heads!). We charged it up, put on a trimming comb, and hacked away.
It hurt for her to shave too closely, which only made it more of a challenge and more funny. My scalp was terribly terribly sore at this point (one reason I was so ready to get the hair off). We stood in the
bathroom mirror in hysterics at our attempts, cutting my hair in crazier and crazier ways until it was gone. Of course, we didn’t miss an opportunity to give me a Mohawk.
Enjoy the photos! (Particularly the added effect of the “crazy girl glasses”, as my blind-ass self tried to see what we were doing!)
Inspecting the back view (sorry for the clarity)
Vanessa and I pose for some photos to send to my family.
The final result…ain’t it sweet?
and look at the flowers Del brought home after I announced what we’d done while he was at work 🙂